Sydney Morning Herald - Friday 16 September, 2005
Pedestrian mall likely to give way to motorists
By Bonnie Malkin
Urban Affairs Reporter
Photo: Ben Rushton
Pedestrian malls are meant for pedestrians, right? Wrong. If a Parramatta City Council plan goes ahead, pedestrians strolling down Church Street Mall of an evening could soon be forced to share the space with cars.
Parramatta's Mayor, David Borger, said the council was considering handing the mall, which lies between Macquarie and George streets, back to motorists because it had become unsafe at night. "In the daytime it's like a packed game at Parramatta Stadium, it's full of people, but at night-time … the place is dead," he said. "Safety is also an issue. The local police and people who use the mall at night would like it to be more active."
The council has set up a working party, with representatives from the community and businesses, to discuss the mall's future. Cr Borger said allowing cars to travel one-way along the mall would make the area livelier.
"There's no reason we couldn't envisage a flexible space with people in the daytime," he said. Under the plan, the section of the mall between Macquarie and Darcy streets will remain solely for pedestrian use.
Church Street Mall was opened in 1986. If the proposal to allow cars back goes ahead, it will be the fifth mall in Sydney to be returned to motorists. In 1996 Penrith's High Street mall and Fairfield's Ware Street mall were opened to traffic, and in 1999 cars were welcomed back to Blacktown's Patrick Street mall and Bankstown's City Plaza.
Joanne Sleiman, manager of the Lavish clothing shop in the mall, welcomed the plan. Allowing cars into the mall would make it safer at night, she said.
"The area attracts a lot of junkies and alcoholics and people are afraid to come out here," Ms Sleiman said. "And it affects the hours we can work - we're scared to stay late on Thursday night."
Merrilee Polley, who lives in Penrith but visits the mall regularly, was against the plan, because children would not be able to play in the mall if cars used it.
"One of the reasons we come here is it's one of the few places in Parramatta where the kids can play while we shop," she said.
Harold Scruby, chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, said the council should create a shared zone in the mall, where pedestrians had right of way and cars were limited to 10 kilometres an hour.